It has been two years since South Nelson Elementary School decided to use the Farm to School BC start-up grant to implement a weekly salad bar lunch. This healthy lunch option is now the most popular choice amongst students, with well over half of the student body signing up each week. Along with its growing popularity, the salad bar has an expanding list of local producers who enjoy supporting the program. The hands-on experience that this program provides has proven to be extremely successful. Students are gaining knowledge through preparing the meals, serving and cleaning up the salad bar, plus the many educational opportunities it has created.
We started with basic ingredients from our local grocery store which was our first trial run. After just one try, it was apparent that the salad bar would be a success. We then reached out for local support which we found in our local food co-op, three local farms and our neighbourhood bakery. Each support us with affordable prices, educational tours and delivery right to our door.
The educational opportunities that our salad bar provides are endless and we always try to make the most of them. Some grade 4 and 5 students created a kitchen apprenticeship, that must be formally applied for. The students learn important life skills, such as safety and good hygiene within the kitchen. A group of older students serve at the salad bar encouraging all to respectfully choose their food and try new things. A grade 3 class even created signs presenting each salad bar item along with the farm it came from. Some classes have even planted food for the salad bar with sprouts and peas.
This year has proven to be another great success for the South Nelson Elementary salad bar program! Some of our student salad bar chefs set up a booth at the local high school’s Sustainable Jobs Fair, presenting pictures and documentary of the program. Our F2S coordinator has helped three other schools in the district implement their own salad bar program. We now feed a staff member’s chickens our compost, who will hopefully supply the salad bar with fresh eggs when they get older. In addition, a kindergarten class tried their hand at growing fresh peas for the salad bar.
There is no doubt that our school will continue with our progress and keep evolving. In the fall we will be planting a small kitchen garden to grow herbs as our school grounds are being revamped. There are also many new and exciting ideas from our students to be planned out. We look forward to many more years of South Nelson Elementary Salad Bar and are proud of our accomplishments thus far!